The stock markets in the United States suffered a significant decline today. The NASDAQ recorded the biggest drop in eleven months due to the selloff of equities in the semiconductor industry. The selloff extended in the broader market today.

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Commenting on the market trend, Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co. told Bloomberg, “Some of the hot tech and biotech stocks — the higher-beta names — are taking a hit today. There’s a little profit taking, which feeds on itself, especially within stocks that have jumped the most recently.”

Today, Chicago Federal Bank President Charles Evans said the inflation remains very low to warrant an interest rate this year despite a “terrific” improvement of the labor market. The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 5.5% in February.

Evans statement was contrary to the position of St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard that policy makers “should get on normalization” as soon as possible. He warned that keeping the interest rates at zero will lead to devastating bubbles.

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On Friday, economic data will likely show that the U.S. economy grew 2.4% in the fourth quarter. Economists polled by Bloomberg estimated that the economic growth would be around 2.2% in the first quarter and 3% in the second quarter of this year.

The Department of Commerce reported that sales of new homes in the U.S. surprisingly increased last month. The new home sales rose 7.8% to seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 539,000 units.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17,718.54 (-1.62%)
  • S&P 500- 2,061.05 (-1.46%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,876.52 (-2.37%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,234.53 (-2.29%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,684.04 (-1.27%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,990.97 (-0.41%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,865.32 (-1.17%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 19,746.20 (+0.17%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 24,528.23 (+0.53%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,940.41 (-0.82%)

Stocks in Focus

Apollo Education Group declined more than 28% to $20.04 per share after reporting disappointing financial results for its fiscal second quarter. The company posted losses of $0.10 per share. Its revenue dropped 14% to $587.57 million.

The stock price of Kraft Foods Group surged more than 35% to $83.17 per share after announcing its merger agreement with H.J. Heinz Company. The merger will create the third largest food and beverage company in North America, which will be called The Kraft Heinz Company.

The shares of Kofax surged 46% to $10.95 per share after disclosing that it will be acquired by Lexmark International for $11 per share or approximately $1 billion. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year. The stock price of Lexmark International increased 6% to $43.27 per share.

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